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Bosy

In: Business and Management

Submitted By bossy
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PA R T

IV

ETHICS AND THE ORGANIZATION

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CHAPTER

8

ETHICAL PROBLEMS OF ORGANIZATIONS

INTRODUCTION
In the third quarter of 2002, the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank, estimated that the corporate scandals that began with the Enron debacle in late 2000 would cost the U.S. economy $35 billion. That is the equivalent of a $10 increase per barrel of oil.1 It is, in a word, staggering. And we may not have seen the end of it. Long before Enron’s collapse, a number of business ethicists and business professionals watched with concern as Wall Street analysts demanded increasingly strong corporate financial performance to support rising corporate stock prices. At the same time, the gargantuan compensation packages (including stock options) of the top executives running these companies became inextricably linked to their companies’ stock prices. In 1990, average CEO pay at major corporations was 107 times the pay of the average worker. By 2004, CEO pay had risen to 431 times the pay of the average employee. (If the pay of average workers in the United States had risen as fast as CEO pay, the lowest paid workers would be earning $23.03 an hour, not $5.15 an hour.)2 It was an “accident” waiting to happen, although everyone was making so much money in the market that no one wanted to admit that something could be fundamentally wrong. Experts warned of a bubble—even Alan Greenspan, head of the Federal Reserve, cautioned against “irrational exuberance” in the markets.3 But no one could have predicted how bad things would get. In a June 2002 interview on PBS’s Frontline, Arthur Levitt, former head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, explained how stock prices influence executives and their ethical decision making...

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